Matt Maher finds family in new home

Barons youth product, Temple grad, signs with Carolina

Cape May’s Matt Maher, arguably one of the greatest success stories to emerge from the Ocean City Barons youth system, has signed his first professional contract. 

Matt Maher (#13) with his older brother Anthony (#12), are now teammates with the Carolina RailHawks
He joins his brother Anthony as a member of the Carolina RailHawks, an expansion team in the USL First Division.

Maher began playing for the Barons at the Under-14 level and remained with the club through his days at Middle Township High School, where he was coached by his father, John Maher. He tied his brother’s single season scoring record (32 goals) at Middle Township and earned himself a scholarship from Temple University. He was a four-year starter for the Owls and earned a handful of individual awards. Throughout his college career, he played three seasons for the Barons’ PDL squad (2004 - 2006) where he ranks seventh all-time in minutes played (2,567).

Cape May’s Matt Maher, arguably one of the greatest success stories to emerge from the Ocean City Barons youth system, has signed his first professional contract. He joins his brother Anthony as a member of the Carolina RailHawks, an expansion team in the USL First Division.

Maher began playing for the Barons at the Under-14 level and remained with the club through his days at Middle Township High School, where he was coached by his father, John Maher. He tied his brother’s single season scoring record (32 goals) at Middle Township and earned himself a scholarship from Temple University. He was a four-year starter for the Owls and earned a handful of individual awards. Throughout his college career, he played three seasons for the Barons’ PDL squad (2004 - 2006) where he ranks seventh all-time in minutes played (2,567).

"The PDL was one of the main reasons I was able to compete at the Division I level," said Maher. "Even after a great Division I soccer season, you could look forward to the same level of competition in the PDL during the summer."

Matt Maher (#13) with his older brother Anthony (#12), are now teammates with the Carolina RailHawks
He helped the Barons to an undefeated regular season in 2004 (14-0-4), in a season where he scored 4 goals in 11 games. Another highlight from that magical season was during the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. When the Barons took the field against the Syracuse Salty Dogs of the A-League (now the USL First Division), there was a familiar face on the other side of the field -- Matt’s brother Anthony Maher. The Maher brothers joined the Dombrowski family from Milwaukee as the only family members to play against each other in the Open Cup in the professional era.

After the Fall soccer season during his senior year on North Broad Street, Maher traveled to Tampa, FL to participate in the United Soccer League’s Player Combine. After an impressive performance there, he drew attention from Miami FC (USL First Division), who later drafted him in the USL College Draft in the first round with the ninth overall selection.

"The USL Combine was a great experience," explained Maher. "I never could have imagined being drafted in the top 10. However, I did know that I impressed the Miami FC coaching staff the last day of the combine, because their GM pulled me off the shuttle to give me his business card. That was a great feeling."

It looked as though Maher was on his way from the beaches of Ocean City to the sands in Miami, but Matt did something few players in his position would do -- he put his education first. He delayed the beginning of his professional soccer career so that he could finish school at Temple.

The problem was, by taking the time to finish his degree, he wasn’t able to join Miami FC or any other club for pre-season training in the Spring. With that decision, he found himself in soccer limbo, a player without a team.

After graduating from the Fox School of Business in May, Maher moved to Cary, NC to live with his brother and began to train with the RailHawks. It looked like the ideal fit, living and playing alongside his brother on a brand new team in a top notch soccer park like SAS Stadium. Unfortunately, he would suffer an injury that would delay him signing with the club. After taking a few weeks to recover, he officially joined his brother on the Carolina roster halfway through the season by putting pen to paper on a contract through the 2008 season.

Maher attributes much of his success to his new housemate.

"Anthony has been the biggest influence on my soccer career. If it wasn’t for him, I would not be where I am today. To get the opportunity to play on a professional soccer team with my older brother is priceless."

Matt Maher may have found an ideal fit for himself in Carolina. He’s expected to play a central defender role for the club, a bit different from his place in the midfield that he enjoyed for the majority of his time with the Barons.

According to Anthony, "Matty" will fit in really well with the ’Hawks.

"We have something very special, a true family on and off the field. A philosophy that [Carolina head coach] Scott [Schweitzer] has created. Compliment that with actually having your brother suit up next to you on the field, is something truly special and memorable. Definitely one of my top highlights in my career. I am a very proud brother."

Field